Safety first as fireworks event is called off
DOWNEND'S biggest outdoor event of the year has been cancelled.
The Downend Round Table fireworks display on King George V playing fields regularly attracts up to 12,000 people.
But the coronavirus pandemic and social distancing rules to tackle the spread of the disease meant that the event, which had been due to take place on November 6, was not viable.
It is the biggest charity display in the Bristol area, generating thousands of pounds for local good causes every year.
The decision was announced in a statement from the Round Table, which said the decision had been taken "after careful consideration".
The organisers added: "The Coronavirus Pandemic means we are not able to guarantee the safety of the thousands of members of the public that attend, or that the event will be financially viable.
"This has been a difficult decision for us, as all the profits from the Fireworks event goes towards supporting charities and good causes in Downend and the wider area.
"We are already working hard on plans for next year, and are making sure we will be back with a great event for our 50th anniversary in 2021."
Downend Round Table fireworks chairman Paul Wells said the decision had been taken before the introduction of the government's 'rule of six' ban on social gatherings, saying: "Social distancing rules would still have applied to us – it would have made it very difficult.
"We were concerned that there might be changes in the guidelines again and either we would not have had enough people to recoup the costs or that we would have had a limit on numbers and not many people coming on the day.
"At the end of the day we didn't feel that we could sensibly manage the risk."
Paul said the decision had been left "until the last possible minute" before the group would have had to start committing time and funds to preparations.
He said: "We've got a good working relationship with the parish council and Skyburst, our fireworks contractors, and they have been very understanding of our decision."
Downend Round Table had intended to donate funds raised by the event to a fund supporting people who had suffered during lockdown or groups providing services locally to help people through the pandemic.
Last year's display was badly affected by the weather but even so it raised £6,000 for local charities. In a "good year" the event will raise £20,000, said Paul.
The event is staffed by volunteers from the round Table and other organisations including the 41 Club of ex-Round Table members, Fishponds and Downend Rotary, and local scouts and guides.
The organisers have already started to think about next year's event, which will be the Downend Round Table's 50th anniversary display.
Paul said everyone who had been due to be involved this year was still on board for next year.
He said: "We would like to do something a bit special."
Downend Round Table is an organisation for men aged between 18 and 45. Anyone interested in joining can email firstname.lastname@example.org, visit the club's website at downendrt.co.uk or its Facebook page for more information.
It is only the second time in the event's history that the display has had to be cancelled.